As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Mark 12:38 – 40)

It is not just the scribes of Jesus’ time who demand and expect such attention – and are worthy of such condemnation. In fact it is not just religious leaders who have earned such scorn. It is very easy to hand out such scorn and dispense such ill regard. I would caution you though, beloved reader, in your appraisal of others not to become like the person you are judging. It does not good, and can cause great ill, to fall into that trap. Do not lose sight of the fact that Jesus’ deepest wish was to redeem these scribes and their ilk by turning them aside from their sinful path and calling them to a deeper and authentic faith. The writer of the gospel of Mark paints a vivid picture of Jesus teaching his disciples, but that picture is only half complete if does not contain compassion and care.

“He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Verses 41 – 44)

Jesus calls out to us to notice things; how people act in the larger community, and what they expect from those around them. We are to notice what people are willing to give, and what they hold back for their own gain. It is not just money that can be given, but time and energy. Working for and towards the Divine’s Kingdom does not mean just putting some folding money in a collection box. It is committing all we have and all we are to further the work of the Divine. And to work towards the benefit for others.

I have found the more I give of myself, the more I feel given to me in return. But expecting a reward skewers the best of intentions. We may naively think that Jesus was willing to give up everything for the world because He knew all things would be returned to Him. I exhort you to remember that Jesus inhabited a human body with all the needs and nerve endings that you and I have. Even if I knew that I would receive back what was taken from me, I am not sure I go through with being crucified. But holding back something from my Lord and God that was needed is not something I could or would do either.

May you, beloved reader, take care in who and what you critique. May you offer up all of you to the Divine; and may the hope and faith you have carry you through this life to the life to come. Shalom & Selah!